Gore Vidal once remarked that the four sweetest words in the English language are “I told you so.” To give Charlie Hebdo credit where credit is due. They’re not pretending any more. They genuinely hate Muslims. People in the United States who persist in defending them with the idea that “well Americans just don’t understand French humor” can now be safely dismissed as fools.
“How Did We End Up Here?” is not only a bigoted editorial calling for religious repression and collective punishment. It’s just bad writing. Published in English – fans of Sam Harris and Bill Maher are the targeted audience — it contains so many logical fallacies it’s hard to know where to begin. It’s not only the terrorists who are responsible for the attack on the Brussels Airport, the writer argues, but ordinary Muslims who are just going on about their everyday lives. The Muslim woman who wears a veil, the Muslim baker who refuses to serve pork, the Muslim university professor who insists on defending his religion, are all part of a demographic time bomb threatening the French way of life. Secular French citizens who treat Muslims with respect are not only just as guilty. They’re like dogs.
Take the local baker, who has just bought the nearby bakery and replaced the old, recently- retired guy, he makes good croissants. He’s likeable and always has a ready smile for all his customers. He’s completely integrated into the neighborhood already. Neither his long beard nor the little prayer-bruise on his forehead (indicative of his great piety) bother his clientele. They are too busy lapping up his lunchtime sandwiches. Those he sells are fabulous, though from now on there’s no more ham nor bacon. Which is no big deal because there are plenty of other options on offer – tuna, chicken and all the trimmings. So, it would be silly to grumble or kick up a fuss in that much-loved boulangerie. We’ll get used to it easily enough. As Tariq Ramadan helpfully instructs us, we’ll adapt. And thus the baker’s role is done.
You can explain away the language – “lapping up his lunchtime sandwiches” – by pointing out that the writer, or whoever translated it into English from the French, is pretty obviously not a native English speaker, but you cannot explain away the ideas behind the clumsy prose. Charlie Hebdo’s problem with the Muslim baker is not that he refuses to assimilate, but that he has assimilated, that he’s become such a vital part of his local community that his secular customers are willing to work around the idea that he won’t serve ham or bacon. For Charlie Hebdo, French citizens have a patriotic duty to force their Muslim neighbors to serve pork. Multiculturalism and religious freedom weaken the resolve of the west to fight the war on terror. As Fox News reminds us every year shortly after Thanksgiving, your right to say “Merry Christmas” is threatened by “liberals” – read Jews – in Hollywood and New York who insist on saying “Happy Holidays” instead.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m no fan of political correctness. The Clinton campaign’s use of feminism and anti-racism to brainwash people into voting against their own economic interests is a good example of how politically toxic the idea of walking on cultural eggshells can be. A video that came out of San Francisco State University – a big strapping black wench shoves around a scrawny little cracker for “appropriating her culture” – almost makes me want to grow dreadlocks, and fly out to California just to prove a point. I don’t even have a problem with offending Muslims, but criticizing political correctness is not what Charlie Hebdo is doing. They are not defending “free speech.” Rather, they are fabricating a correlation between political correctness and terrorism. They are making a false and dangerous connection between the innocent French Muslims just trying to preserve their customs in an overwhelmingly Catholic and secular country and the criminals who bombed the airport in Brussels.
Having very recently read Mein Kampf, I recognize “How Did We End Up Here?” for what it is, fascism.